Kellie Cornish is part of our Sales Support team, based at our Willand Office, helping to support Members. She is also a farmer and here reflects on life on the family farm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who would have thought that a couple of months ago we would now be wishing for some rain? The long, dry, hot spell over the past two weeks has seen us plant the majority of our spring barley and kale.
A decent drop of rain will really help these crops establish and kick start growth for what will be forage a few months down the line.
The recent weather has firmed up the grazing land allowing us to get a good amount of youngstock out to enjoy the rich spring pastures. A sight everyone on the farm loves to see after a long and wet winter.
Over at the dairy it is business as normal – well, as normal as it can be in these uncertain times.
As we approach our peak milk production months, the herd is split into two groups, high yielders and low yielders (cows producing under 20 litres per day).
A small group of our low yielders are now out enjoying the sunshine on their backs, grazing day and night, and only returning to their sheds for milking.
The high yielders remain housed to ensure their lifestyle and diet remains consistent throughout the year, helping us to monitor and fine-tune their nutritional intake. This enables us to produce the high-quality milk that is needed for cheese.
To ensure our high yielding cows still get fresh grass, we use a process called ‘zero grazing’. This involves my cousin mowing fresh grass daily and hauling it back to the yard where my dad then incorporates it into their feed, which is fed to them in their sheds. Although this is a more labour-intensive way of feeding, it means we can control their feed and tweak it as we see changes in the volume and quality of the milk.
As we all well know, life is continuing to be very different as we enter another three weeks of country-wide lockdown, due to Covid-19.
Shops, restaurants, hotels, and many more establishments remain shut. However, school closures have helped us to gain an extra pair of little hands. My seven-year-old cousin, Lily, has found that milking and helping her older cousins on the farm is just as exciting as school, even if it does mean getting up at the crack of dawn!
So far, this season has been a real bag of immense worry as the effects of Covid-19 wreak havoc in our industry and economy.
So many agricultural, social, and sporting calendar events have been cancelled or postponed.
It is a concern that farmers who continue to work as normal, often in isolation, have now lost their place to let off some steam, meet up with other members of the rural community and get headspace away from the farm.
During this time, it is important to remember that we are doing ourselves proud by continuing to feed the nation. As the crisis continues, the way we value our food is changing and people are adapting to this new way of life, by cooking more from scratch, wasting less and sourcing produce locally.
The general public has got a real opportunity to look at how farming and the countryside plays such an important part in everyone’s lives.